10 best books to improve your self-esteem, self image and self worth

Kriti Nayyar

Digital writer, Wellness, Culture, Astrology, Tech

In an era where confidence and communication are the key to success, insecure and self-effacing individuals hardly stand a chance. While all of us have moments of self-doubt, constantly wallowing in our misery and self-pity without taking any corrective actions, is simply unhealthy. Thanks to advancements in literature, there are a plethora of self-help books at our disposal. Let’s take you through the top ten books to improve self-esteem and self-worth.

Whether you’re beating yourself up for not making enough money, struggling with a negative body image or finding yourself unworthy of love – discovering the right tools or right set of people around you can help break this vicious cycle.

What is self-esteem and how can you improve it?

We’re all just a work in progress, with so much still to learn. However, when low self-esteem becomes a long-term problem, it can deeply affect our mental health and hamper day-to-day affairs.

Simply put, self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves. It refers to the degree of how much we like/ value ourselves, often based on comparison with others. Self-esteem, self-worth, and self-image are all counterparts of the umbrella term ‘self-love.’ These constructs denote how you practice self-talk and feel about yourself and life in general. Here are some quick tips to improve your self-esteem.

  • Be kind to yourself
  • Try to recognise the positives
  • Build a healthy support network of family and friends
  • Try going to therapy
  • Set yourself a challenge
  • Look after yourself

Our comprehensive guide will take you through books that are packed with practical exercises and evidence-based research, suggesting effective ways you can improve your self-esteem. Whether you’re trying to turn those self-sabotaging feelings around, boost your self-confidence or seek a deeper understanding of yourself – this collection has something for everyone’s needs. Keep reading to know more.

Best books to skyrocket your self-esteem, and self-worth and improve self-image

For anyone with a personal or professional interest in self-esteem, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem is an essential read. Nathaniel Branden spills his lifetime of clinical practice and studies in the book, which compellingly showcases why self-esteem is crucial to psychological health, achievement, personal happiness, and positive relationships.

He introduced readers to six pillars or six action-based practices that make the foundation of self-esteem. He further explores the importance of self-esteem in five key areas: workplace, parenting, education, psychotherapy, and culture. We highly recommend this book to mental health professionals, teachers, and parents who not only wish to empower themselves but also aid others in their self-love journey at large.

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'The Gifts of Imperfection' by Brené Brown

The Gifts of Imperfection is a guide to living a wholehearted life. We completely love Brené Brown’s powerful voice, her words and everything she puts into the world. Most of the time, self-help and personal development books seem didactic, which makes you lose interest and zone out midway. However, this one’s different.

The Gifts of Imperfection is a heartbreakingly honest account, written from a mother’s perspective. The New York Times bestseller emphasises that if you truly want to feel worthy of yourself, you need to stop listening to today’s culture “where your self-worth is tied to your net worth” and where your worthiness is tied to how productive you are. It offers meaningful and scientific strategies to make peace with your inner critic and embrace your imperfections.

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'The Power of Your Subconscious Mind' by Joseph Murphy

We all know that our subconscious is the driving force behind what we attract in life. So, why not understand its workings to unravel a whole new world of positive energy? In The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, Joseph Murphy amalgamates spiritual wisdom and scientific research to showcase how the subconscious mind is a major influence in your everyday life.

The book blends parts of religion, culture, literature, and science to explain what happiness means and prescribes ways to cultivate it within yourself. Filled with simple and practical techniques, the book can help you improve your relationships, your finances, and your physical well-being.

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‘The Self Confidence Workbook’ by Barbara Markway

'The Self Confidence Workbook' by Barbara Markway

This workbook by Barbara Markway means business. Rather than drowning you in life-altering ideas and tips, it straight dives into practical, accessible strategies, exercises, and step-by-step guides to help you bring out your best self. It’ll help you easily navigate self-confidence land mines in relationships, health and profession.

The Self Confidence Workbook takes you through a ‘5-step program’ that begins with setting goals. It uses evidence-based strategies to foster self-acceptance, mindfulness and self-compassion. Moreover, there are endless reflections, checklists, and quizzes to help you internalise the lessons. Despite being a workbook (which many of you might think is laborious and dry), this one’s actually encouraging and positive.

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‘Ten Days to Self-Esteem’ by David D. Burns

'Ten Days to Self-Esteem' by David D. Burns

Struggling to cultivate productivity in your daily activities? Or still, dissatisfied with what you’ve achieved in life? Ten Days to Self-Esteem will take you through a refreshing journey of acknowledgement and self-discovery. All you need is common sense and the easy-to-follow methods in this book to brighten your mood and self-image.

With clear and innovative ways, David D. Burns will help you identify the causes of your mood slumps and develop a more positive outlook on life. The book has the power to change the way you think and feel. It helps you realise that negative feelings like anger and frustration don’t result from the bad things that happen to you, but from the way you think about these events. Further, you’ll know why you feel mellow and depressed, and learn how to build a secure self-belief system within oneself with detailed examples and methods.

You owe yourself this book to feel good!

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'The Four Agreements' by Don Miguel Ruiz

Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements is a cult classic on how to overcome limiting beliefs. Don Miguel Ruiz offers a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform your life into a journey filled with freedom, happiness and love.

Ruiz outlines four simple agreements you must follow that form the basis of a happy and peaceful existence. These include: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best. Peppered with stories, anecdotes and examples, this one’s a short and captivating read.

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'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian' by Sherman Alexie

If you’re someone who easily gets overwhelmed by those preachy self-help books, this fictional offering is for you. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a coming-of-age novel that revolves around  Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Wanting to take his future into his own hands, Junior decides to leave his troubled school in favour of an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

A heart-melting tale about tweens and teenagers dealing with identity and self-discovery, this book offers a unique perspective on identity, friendship, and the pursuit of a better future. Additionally, if you’re someone interested in exploring issues like racism, poverty, and cultural identity, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is for you.

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'The Psychology of Self-Esteem' by Nathaniel Branden

Nathaniel Branden really seems to have nailed his findings and understanding of self-esteem, with this book being his second entry on the list. The Psychology of Self-Esteem is often dubbed as a groundbreaking book that shook the foundations of psychoanalysis. It offers an in-depth exploration of the need for self-esteem and how self-esteem (or lack of it) affects your values, goals and responses. While it’s probably one of the best self-esteem books out there, it ain’t beginner friendly. It’s a perfect second or third book on self-esteem, but we recommend you opt for something simpler and less nuanced to start your healing cycle.

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'Awaken the Giant Within' by Tony Robbins

Simply put, Awaken the Giant Within is around 500 pages of life-changing information wrapped into one.  Even now, more than 30 years after it was written, the book familiarises you with effective strategies and techniques for mastering your emotions, body, relationships, finances, and life at large. Throughout the book, you’ll discover stories about successful people, a seven-day action plan to change your life and truckloads of tips on how to change your mindset. If you’re struggling to find meaning in your life, this book can be an eye-opening guide for increased self-acceptance and self-love.

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'Genesis Begins Again' by Alicia D. Williams

Another fictional wonder, Genesis Begins Again is a powerful novel that delves into the complexities of self-worth and identity. It revolves around a thirteen-year-old girl, Genesis, as she navigates internalised racism and a verbally abusive family to finally love herself. This beautiful journey of self-love will inspire anyone facing the challenges of self-acceptance and identity. Moreover, it’ll help readers understand the grave impact of societal expectations and stereotypes.

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Hero image: Courtesy cottonbro studio/Pexels; Feature image: Courtesy Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

– What is the best book to improve self-esteem?

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown and The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy are some of the best books to improve self-esteem.

– Does reading books increase self-esteem?

Reading books is a very absorbing experience. With self-help books, you can learn the ways, techniques and strategies to deal with self-image challenges and boost your self-confidence.

– How can I boost my low self-esteem?

To overcome self-esteem issues, you have to learn to be kind to yourself. Moreover, recognise what you’re good at, build positive relationships with your friends and family or even seek therapy if need be.

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